If you’re thinking about hiking Piestewa Peak in Phoenix, Arizona, prepare yourself for gorgeous panoramic views of the desert!
Piestewa Peak Summit Trail is a challenging trail widely regarded as one of the best hikes in Phoenix. You’ll gain an elevation of 1,200 feet in just 1.2 miles, so while it’s a climb—the views are worthwhile! Piestewa Peak is the second-highest peak in Phoenix (behind Camelback Mountain), so you’ll find a blend of locals and tourists on this popular trail.
Before hiking Piestewa Peak in Greater Phoenix, it’s essential to be prepared. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about hiking Piestewa Peak, including some frequently asked questions about the hike.
Trail Statistics for Piestewa Peak Summit Trail #300
Before hiking Piestewa Peak, here are some general trail statistics and guidelines to keep in mind:
- Distance: 2.4 miles
- Trail: Out & Back
- Time: 1.5 hours
- Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
- Difficulty: Challenging
- Season: Fall, Winter & Spring
- Dog-Friendly: No
- Bike-Friendly: No
- Horse-Friendly: No
Where Is Piestewa Peak?
Piestewa Peak is located between North 24th Street and Tatum Boulevard in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, which is at the base of an affluent neighborhood. It’s conveniently located between Phoenix and Scottsdale, so you’ll have quick access to this hike regardless of where you’re staying. When you reach the top, you’ll be greeted with views of Phoenix, Scottsdale, and South Mountain Park.
To reach the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail, turn east on Squaw Peak Drive from Lincoln Drive between 22nd Street and 24th Street. The trail includes paved parking lots and restrooms with drinking water.
How Did Piestewa Peak Get Its Name?
Piestewa Peak was formerly known as “Squaw Peak” when the trail opened in the 1930s, but the name was later changed to “Piestewa Peak” in 2008 to honor Lori Piestewa. Piestewa was the first-known Native American female to die in combat in the U.S. military. She died defending the United States in the Iraq War in 2003.
What Should I Expect When Hiking Piestewa Peak?
When you arrive at the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, you should park in the first parking lot to the left for the quickest access to the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail. However, due to the popularity of this hike, you may find the lot is full. You can always park in one of the other lots or wait for another hiker to leave.
The beginning of the trail includes an old concrete path mixed in with gravel and dirt. This portion of the trail is steep, so you’ll begin to ascend the mountain quickly. You’ll usually find this portion of the trail is filled with hikers who are climbing the mountain or returning from the peak. The crowds tend to thin out as you move up the mountain.
After the concrete path dissipates, you will begin your hike on the mountain trail. Piestewa Peak includes tons of steps either made from stone or carved into the mountain, so you’ll feel your legs burning as you begin the climb! Although the hike is a straight shot up the mountain, you’ll be greeted with small, flat areas that offer a bit of relief. Pretty soon, the parking lot will fade away, and you’ll exclusively see views of the city and desert surroundings.
Once you see metal poles on the trail when you’re hiking Piestewa Peak, you’ll know you’re getting close to the summit. Feel free to use the metal poles for support, take your time, and wait patiently for other hikers. Since the trail gets narrow at this point, you may experience a bit of a “bottleneck” getting up the mountain on a busy day. You may also need to do a bit of rock scrambling to reach the top.
The Piestewa Peak Summit Trail is short (just 1.2 miles to the top), so you may be surprised how winded you feel when you’re hiking Piestewa Peak! However, the views are spectacular, and they’re well worth the climb and rapid elevation gain. There are tons of rocky ledges where you can sit, relax, and enjoy the panoramic mountain, desert, and city views.
What Should I Bring for Hiking Piestewa Peak?
- Hiking Backpack (Keep your hands free, so you can use them if needed on the trail)
- Hiking Boots (You’ll need shoes with good traction for this hike! Tennis shoes with great traction will work well too).
- Refillable Water Bottle (Stay hydrated, and always bring more water than you think you need. Phoenix can get hot!).
- Sunscreen (Protect your skin from the sun’s rays).
- Flashlight or Headlamp (You’ll need one of these if you’re hiking to catch the sunrise or sunset, which I highly recommend on this hike for the most beautiful views).
FAQs for Hiking Piestewa Peak
How long does it take to hike Piestewa Peak?
Depending on your hiking experience and fitness level, it can take anywhere from 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours to hike Piestewa Peak. It’s only a 2.4-mile trail roundtrip, but the rapid 1,200-foot elevation gain makes it a challenging hike.
Is Piestewa Peak harder than Camelback?
While Piestewa Peak and Camelback Mountain are considered the most challenging hikes in Phoenix, Camelback Mountain is usually regarded as more difficult to climb than Piestewa Peak since the ascents are more rapid and difficult.
What time does Piestewa Peak open?
The trailhead hours for Piestewa Peak are 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the trail hours are 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. It’s best to arrive early if you’re trying to avoid the crowds on the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail.
Enjoy the Views from Piestewa Peak in Phoenix, Arizona
If you only have a limited amount of time in Phoenix, Arizona, and are looking to scratch a few of the top hiking trails off your list, you shouldn’t miss the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail for gorgeous mountain, city, and desert views.
Does this hike sound like something you’d enjoy? Let me know in the comments below!
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Save This Guide to Hiking Piestewa Peak for Your Future Climb
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Having hiked Camelback before, my best advice is to start early early in the morning and yes, bring lots of water!
That is great advice!
Oh this looks like a good one! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for reading, Andrea!
Wow! What a gorgeous hike. I love how the hike was named after a female military hero too.
Me too, Linnea! I actually didn’t know that until I was writing this post, so it was a fun fact to learn.
I always enjoy reading your hiking guides! Awesome pictures
Thank you, Deirdre, that means a lot! I’m hoping to post more of them soon 🙂
I’d love to hike this! The views are just insane. Also, that’s pretty neat that you can use the metal poles for support while you ascend!
Right? I love that they provide those, especially when you’re getting tired! It’s also nice to have a barrier between you and the side of the mountain, haha.
This looks like a great hiking trail!
Thanks, Shannon! It’s a great hike!
This looks like the perfect hike to wear out my kids when we visit Phoenix! And I love how they changed the name to honor a specific Native American hero. The views are indeed spectacular, thanks for sharing this hike idea!
Haha, they would be EXHAUSTED after this hike! It’s a really fun one for the whole family. Thanks for reading, Jenn!
I haven’t hiked this trail in Phoenix, but maybe I’ll try it when I’m there next time. Great tips!
I’m glad I could put it on your radar, Wendy! It’s a great hike.
This looks great! Headed to AZ on Friday and can’t wait to do some hiking!
Yay! Have a great time in AZ! We’re had a bit of a “cold front” move through (AKA it’s below 100 degrees) so I hope you’ll get some of that nice weather while you’re here.
Wow! Lovely post and photos. Unfortunately, I can see such beautiful hikes only in photos as I am just not into challenging hikes at all. Hats off to you!
Haha, that’s totally fine! I’ll try to post some easier ones here soon as well!